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The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, & Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Co

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The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, & Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Co Cover

ISBN13: 9780300169690
ISBN10: 0300169698
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Bayes' rule appears to be a straightforward, one-line theorem: by updating our initial beliefs with objective new information, we get a new and improved belief. To its adherents, it is an elegant statement about learning from experience. To its opponents, it is subjectivity run amok.

In the first-ever account of Bayes' rule for general readers, Sharon Bertsch McGrayne explores this controversial theorem and the human obsessions surrounding it. She traces its discovery by an amateur mathematician in the 1740s through its development into roughly its modern form by French scientist Pierre Simon Laplace. She reveals why respected statisticians rendered it professionally taboo for 150 years—at the same time that practitioners relied on it to solve crises involving great uncertainty and scanty information (Alan Turing's role in breaking Germany's Enigma code during World War II), and explains how the advent of off-the-shelf computer technology in the 1980s proved to be a game-changer. Today, Bayes' rule is used everywhere from DNA de-coding to Homeland Security.

Drawing on primary source material and interviews with statisticians and other scientists, The Theory That Would Not Die is the riveting account of how a seemingly simple theorem ignited one of the greatest controversies of all time.

About the Author

Sharon Bertsch McGrayne is the author of numerous books, including Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries and Prometheans in the Lab: Chemistry and the Making of the Modern World. She is a prize-winning former reporter for Scripps-Howard, Gannett, Crain's, and other newspapers and has spoken at many scientific conferences, national laboratories, and universities in the United States and abroad. She lives in Seattle with her husband, George F. Bertsch, professor of physics at the University of Washington.

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smspain, January 24, 2012 (view all comments by smspain)
Very nice history of Bayes Theorem and its applications. A fine example of the increasingly common "popular statistics" books, it is kept lively by biographical sketches of the major players. The book also covers a really extraordinary range of applications, from the well-known Federalist papers authorship question to the until recently largely unknown use of Bayes theorem in code-breaking applications during WWII. Long live neo-Bayes-Laplace!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780300169690
Subtitle:
How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy
Author:
Mcgrayne, Sharon
Author:
McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
History
Subject:
Mathematics -- History.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20120925
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
360
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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